By Pacific Island Times News Staff
FCC assigns 988 as emergency number; 10-digit dialing to roll out in October
The 10-digit dialing procedure will officially begin on Guam on Oct. 24 —which means all local phone calls must include the 671 area code— and local carriers have teamed up to prepare all subscribers for the transition.
"In a joint effort, all Guam’s service providers will supply constant reminders through in-store flyers, social medial content, and notices on subscribers’ upcoming billing statements," reads a joint statement from Docomo Pacific, IT&E and GTA TeleGuam.
The also announced that the Federal Communications Commission has designated 988 as the service number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline effective July 16, 2022.
When it comes to suicide prevention and mental health aid, every second matters. Right now, if a loved one wanted to take the courageous step to ask for help, they would have to dial 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline -- a number too long to remember in times of crisis.
Beginning July of next year, when you have an urgent mental health need, you will call just three digits - “988"; similar to “911” for police, fire, or rescue emergencies.
To make this possible, all area codes within the United States that have phone numbers beginning with “988” will now require the area code dialed first, followed by the local telephone number (for example: 671-988-XXXX). This prevents calls to the National Suicide Lifeline from being automatically triggered and placed.
Guam is among 82 area codes that need to make this local call transition. By Oct. 24, 2021, all phone numbers will remain the same, but “671” will need to be entered in the beginning.
“Mental health is a big issue that affects our island. We know there will be some initial frustration with the 10-digit dialing at first, but the benefits of a shortcode “988” in times of crisis will outweigh that on many levels," said Roderick Boss, CEO of Docomo Pacific. "Your island carriers will be combining our resources and working together to make the transition seamless."
Some helpful tips to navigate through this change:
Go through your contact list and add “671” in the beginning of all local phone numbers.
Reprogram all numbers on life safety systems or medical monitoring devices, PBXs, fax machines, internet dial-up numbers, fire or burglar alarms and security systems or gates.
For business customers: Be sure to check websites, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks for contact information and other such items to ensure the area code is included.
“Uniting with our local telecom providers to educate our island about mandatory 10-digit dialing is critical. It gives customers adequate time to check and reprogram electronics and other equipment to incorporate 10-digit phone numbers," said Andrew Gayle, CEO of GTA.
He said the permissive dialing period given by all local telecom companies on Guam allows customers to become acclimated to dialing 10-digits instead of 7 and ensures that the community is fully prepared for the significant change this year.
"The implementation of ‘988’ as the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline is a positive step for our community and further connects them to life-saving resources," Gayle added.
Jim Oehlerking, CEO of IT&E said his company's partnership with Docomo and GTA is instrumental for helping all subscribers adjust to the new dialing procedure, as well as for educating the community about the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline that will be operational next year.
"It’s a testament to the strength of our community that we can unite to help our island thrive. We stand hand in hand to elevate awareness of the resources available for mental health," he added.